European Green Deal MUST provide meaningful youth participation

25. 06. 2020

Our response on why meaningful youth participation through the Climate Pact is key for the success of the European Green Deal 

The European Green Deal is the EU’s roadmap towards a sustainable future, with the ultimate goal of achieving a climate-neutral continent by 2050.  As part of the Green Deal, the Commission announced its plans to launch a European Climate Pact, which would allow citizens and stakeholders “a voice and role in designing new climate actions, sharing information, launching grassroots activities and showcasing solutions that others can follow.” This year, between March and June, the Commission opened a public consultation to better understand how this Climate Pact will work. 

The European Youth Forum came together with Generation Climate Europe, the largest European coalition of youth-led organisations focused specifically on environmental issues, to respond. We welcome the Climate Pact and the public consultation, and have taken this opportunity to share the youth perspective on citizen engagement in climate action. Broad societal engagement on climate and environment is key to a sustainable Europe and the success of the European Green Deal.

Have a look below at our ‘key asks’ from the European Commission:

“Talking about climate change” is not enough, but we need meaningful youth engagement in climate policy. 

We believe that communication activities and events to raise awareness on the climate crisis are vital, but the Climate Pact cannot merely be understood as a top-down mechanism to disseminate information and encourage sustainable behaviours. Young people have the right to participate in climate policy making and the Climate Pact provides a framework to institutionalise youth participation in climate policy. The EU decision-makers should create a space for regular and meaningful dialogue with youth on policy proposals and strategies in the area of climate and sustainability. To this end, we propose a Youth Climate Dialogue with Youth Climate and Sustainability Roundtables facilitated by the First Executive Vice-President of the European Commission at its core:

  • The roundtable should take place on a regular basis, ideally twice a year. 
  • The Youth Climate and Sustainability Roundtables should be hosted by the EESC in collaboration with the European Commission (EC) and the European Parliament (EP) 
  • The youth input to the Roundtables should be collated by facilitators from youth organisations and form the basis of the discussion . This should then beformally sent to the EP and EC with both institutions providing a written response, which would outline which proposals can and cannot be implemented and why. The Roundtables must not become a ‘talking shop’ but rather demonstrate meaningful engagement and responses from policy makers. 
  • In addition to meeting with the EC and the EP, the relevant presidencies could also be invited. This will ensure that young people can enter into dialogue with the Council of the EU. The Roundtables could be timed to match the presidency rotation so that young people can truly impact the presidency agenda.
  • The EU decision-makers should ensure quality involvement of democratic and youth-led youth organisations such as the European Youth Forum in the development, implementation and follow-up of different mechanisms for structured youth engagement on climate and sustainability in the EU decision-making processes. It will help to create engagement that fosters young people’s creativity and ideas at the same time making sure that these ideas translate into concrete policies.
“Triggering action” is important, but the EU needs to make available additional funds to support youth organisations and young people in their climate actions.

Investment in climate-friendly practices has a great social and environmental return, but often not an economic return for people and organisations making the investment. Therefore it is crucial that the EU supports actions and pledges through appropriate funding: 

  • Broaden the scope of targeted support from the three areas proposed to a wider range of activities youth organisations and young people are engaged in such as educational activities and capacity building workshops on the topic of climate crisis
  • In particular, funding must be secured for youth-led grassroots organisations and initiatives. When necessary, existing youth umbrella organisations can assume a role in ensuring that the funding reaches the grassroots level.
  • Ensure easy access to such funds with the least possible bureaucratic hurdles in order to facilitate the process in particular for youth-led local and smaller organisations with less capacity
  • Ensure that such funds are distributed in a inclusive manner and reaches a diverse set of initiatives and initiators in terms of geographical scope, background, gender, etc. while prioritising marginalised and vulnerable groups
  • Pledges (public commitments around climate change-related actions) should not be limited to businesses and civil society, but also include public institutions and governments to follow suit in becoming more climate-friendly in their daily activities
“Working together” will only work if the EU assumes its own responsibility and delivers on its own commitments including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

This includes the commitment to limit temperature increases to 1.5°C and through ambitious EU climate policies:

  • Phase-out all fossil fuels and absolutely decrease energy use rather than only increasing energy efficiency. 
  • Accelerate the just and sustainable transition to a 100% renewable energy supply, which is clean, affordable and supports community ownership and does not lead to energy poverty 
  • Go beyond eco-efficiency towards eco-sufficiency and abandon GDP growth as the main measures of progress. 
  • Pave the way for accelerating sustainable life-style changes and dematerialise consumption, for example by providing a sustainable food and transport infrastructure. 
  • Ensure policy making on the basis of independent and decentralised scientific studies. In addition, the EU has a role to play in making climate science more easily available in an understandable, accessible manner to the public and civil society organisations. 

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